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Cathy Park Hong is a Korean American poet, writer, and professor, Her writing, editing, and performances across media seek to open up the interactive possibilities of poetry for the sake of providing alternative ways of living within the existing real.(r.5)
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.
Binding these essays together is Hong’s theory of “minor feelings.” As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality—when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity. Minor feelings are not small, they’re dissonant—and in their tension Hong finds the key to the questions that haunt her.
With sly humor and a poet’s searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche—and of a writer’s search to both uncover and speak the truth.(r.6)
Highlights vs self- reflection:
1.p.25: Asians also have the highest income disparity out of any racial group. Among the working class, Asian are invisible serfs of the garment and service industries
2.p.43:Asians are next in line to be disappeared,deprived of all social cues, I have no rational gauge for my own behavior, I ransack my mind for what I could have done and what I have said. I stop trusting what I see and what I hear. My ego is in free fall while my superegos is boundless.
Life is more helpless, the spirit is more powerful
3.p.78: what teenage boy had a fantasy of catching children in the field of rye lest they happened fall off the cliff to adulthood? The innocent children were popularized in nineteen centuries. Before that in the West, children are treated like little adults. Till now, we treat kids like wonder.
What we treat our children have the background influence.
4.p.84: Shame is a Pavlovian response, its agitated receptor going off for no other reasom than just stepped outside my house,shame is the sharp ,prickling awareness that I am exposed like the inflamed ass of a baboon. Shame is open associated with Asianness and the Confucian system of honor alongside its incomprehensible rites of shame.
5. p.102The immigrants’ introduction to surviving in English is pornographic. A way to learn English always starts from the dirty words.p.108: It was once a source of sharme, but now I say it proudly: bad English is my heritage. One coin got two sides, change attitude, change everything.
6.p.120:America’s great and possibly catastrophic failure is its failure to imagine what it means to live together. Not only about how much I have hurt, but how I have hurt others. ”you can’t do it unless you imagine it-George Lucas”. America has the great talent of imagination where we learn to love and forgive with more great imagination.
7.p.166:”To be successful is to embrace the dregs of morals, money, parasitic existecne.”
8.p.211: “not belonging seemed rigid and rudimentary.” Fight or flight is a double-edged knife depended by our attitude.
9.p.212:”Poetry is a forgiving medium for any one who’s had a strained relationship with English.”
“The poet is the priest of the invisible.” — Wallace Stevens, from Opus Posthumous.
10.p.218:” We need to be the allies for vulnerable communities today that Japanese American didnt have in 1942-Tom Ikeda”
11.contagement:containment and engagement
1.p.16:every pore in my skin sang with hurt.
2.p.20: American inhabit a vague purgatorial status
3.p.20:I am frantically paddling my feet underwater.
4.p.21: You need to talk or they’ll walk all over you.
1.Even a simple nail round cutting can be treated unexpectful to square, Under so many frustrations, it turns into the power to be stronger than others.
2. The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one-Catcher In The Rye.(r.1)
3.Compare to the USA, Korean traditional family doesn’t have the bed-time story habit. Different background brings different education style and culture shock.
4.Moonrise kingdom protests that the America supremacist is the curator of the European decendants.
5. In this blistering essay collection, poet Hong (Engine Empire) interrogates America’s racial categories to explore the “under-reported” Asian-American experience. Hong, a child of Korean immigrants, was born in Los Angeles’s Koreatown, but moved from the neighborhood before the 1992 riots upended the area. Her topics include personal experiences, from learning English as a second language and obsessing over her scented Hello Kitty–branded erasers as a child, to mining the repertoire of Richard Pryor as a young woman entering the stand-up scene. She is both angry and wryly funny when examining her struggles with depression, hemifacial spasm disorder, and poetry peers who dismissed her first book as “hack identity politics.” Assessing perceptions of Asian-Americans as “next in line to be white,” as one man tells her, she observes that in fact they have the “highest income disparity out of any racial group” in the country. Her confrontational prose maintains a poet’s lyricism in “The End of White Innocence,” which recalls a childhood “spent looking into the menagerie of white children.” Combining cultural criticism and personal exploration, Hong constructs a trenchant examination of race in America. (r.4)
With a sharp eyes to see the Asian-Americans, all the wounds make her be more strong to face the marks. and overturn the solipsism of white innocence even act more grateful for giving them a second chance to live.
5.Minor is the puns of second-class citizen and juvenile.
6. Minor things can become moments of great revelation when encountered for the first time-Margot Fonteyn
7. The cather in the rye or the watcher in the rye.
8. The pencil, like a fussy bureaucrat, reorients the reader in time and space.
We wander, looking and daydreaming, forgetting about the pencil until it reappears again.-Virginia Woolf.
9.”the language of friendship is not words but meanings-Henry David Thoreau.” It helps Cathy get out of the lonely time in the annals of history and literature.
10.” These women are suffering and the transcendence of suffering.-Dictee”
11. OGrady said in 2016: "I think art’s first goal is to remind us that we are human, whatever that is. I suppose the politics in my art could be to remind us that we are all human."(r.16) Cha’s death shows the racial disparity that no one wants to face her death as sexual homicide.
12. Minor feelings are not small, they’re dissonant—and in their tension Hong finds the key to the questions that haunt her.(r.18)
13. Even in a nail salon , we can feel hallucinting racial discrimination.
Questions by Lydia:
Please see the relevant information for the coming
Mon Reading gathering; looking forward to seeing you
all, I am.
About the writer, Cathy Park Hong born on Aug 7, 1976, is a Korean American poet, writer and professor, was raised in Los Angeles, graduated from Uberlin College and has am MFA from Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers Uni. Hong is married to the artist Mores McWreath, they have a daughter named Meret.
Minor Feelings Summary
Cathy Park Hongs Minor Feelings: An Asian America Reckoning is a collection of
seven essays, each written in a modular form. This structure works through
the collaged accumulation of Hongs personal anecdotes, references to
ancillary texts, and historical accounts. The essays do not follow a linear or
neat progression of exploration,functioning, rather through paratactic association.
In "United," Hong holds that American culture seeks to disappear Asian citizens.
Throughout the essay, Hong references her own childhood, as well as a range of news stories, in order to support her claim. She begins by explaining her
history of depression, and the ways in which her mental state often made
her hate herself. In retrospect, she realizes that her self-hatred was also a symptom of her racial identity. Because majority United States culture demanded that Hong and her family be quiet, compliant, academic, and hardworking, Hong desired invisibility. She references her familial history, her parents and grandmothers
immigration to the States, and their struggles to assimilate and establish stability. Despite these efforts, Hong always felt excluded and isolated. Through Daos story, she particularly understands that if Asian Americans step outside prescribed models of behavior, they will be violently targeted and abused. In "Stand Up," Hong explores
the ways in which studying comedian Richard Pryors work allowed her to reevaluate
and reinvent her own racial and artistic identity. In Pryors standup, Hong witnessed an authenticity and boldness she had been unable to embrace in her own writing.
Unlike Pryor, she feared her majority white audience. She felt entrapped by
the ways in which she was expected to narrate and express her lived experience, the
truth of her voice. Hong then attempted employing humor at the start of her readings in order to acknowledge her insecurities before the audience could. In "The End of White Innocence," Hong uses literary notions of the loss of innocence inorder to discuss the concept of white innocence, and white tears. Hong argues that
minority individuals do not experience the same literary narrative arcs that majority
white individuals do. Whereas Hong was forced to read and understand the adolescent coming of age stories of white youth, her white classmates were never asked to read or understand her minority reality. Once Hong began reading
writers of color, she felt seen and validated. She now works to subvert notions
of white innocence in her own writing. In "Bad English," Hong describes her fraught
relationship with the English language. As a child, Hong was embarrassed by her familys poor use of the language. She wanted to escape the obvious nature of Korean American identity. While in college at Oberlin, Hong studied poetry under Myung Mi Kim. Kims assigned readings and lectures helped Hong see the
ways in which language and writing could be political. By employing the broken English of her youth, Hong might be able to enact her particular feelings of oppression and exclusion. In "AnEducation," Hong resists writing about her
mother, as is expected of all Korean American narratives, writing instead
about her close friendships with Asian American women. While attending college
at Oberlin, Hong reconnected with her childhood art camp friend, Erin. Through
Erin, she met Helen, and the three established a close friendship. Erin and Helens bold and unabashed spirits both in and out of the classroom, inspired and encouraged Hong. She not only felt seen and validated by her friendships, but found that these connections demanded an artistic energy she had not known before.
When Hong grew frustrated with her visual art, she began studying poetry. Her poetic explorations fueled her writing career. In "Portrait of an Artist," Hongwrites the story of Theresa Hak Kyung Chas lifeand death. Chaswork, particularly
Her autobiographical text, Dictee, were particularl revolutionary to Hong during college. Years after graduating, while reviewing Chas work, Hong was disturbed to
discover the lack of information regarding her brutal rape and murder. Feeling
she could not write truthfully about Chas work without knowing the details of her
story, Hong began researching. Hongs interviews and studies made her
see that the lack of coverage on Chas death was immediately linked to her
racial identity. The essay works to make Chas life and work visible once
again. In "The Indebted," Hong discusses the difference between indebtedness and
gratitude. In order to better understand her racial identity and history in America, Hong researches Asian American activism. She realizes how much she owes all those who struggled before her in order to give her the life she has now. However, learning even more about American racial atrocities, makes Hong resistant to thanking a nation that actively has sought to disappear her people for centuries.
1. During Cathy’s 1st experience approaching the 1st therapist, why did the Korean therapist refuse to take her case?
- Minor feelings, however, are also explicitly racialized, described by Hong as “emotions that are negative, dysphoric, and therefore untelegenic, built from the sediments of everyday racial experience and the irritant of having one’s perception of reality constantly questioned or dismissed.”(r.19)
She obsessively asks her husband whether a facial tic that she had in her 20s has returned (it hasn’t); she mixes whiskey, Ambien, Xanax, and weed but still can’t fall asleep. Eventually, she seeks out a therapist — specifically, a Korean-American therapist with whom she might have jeong, an untranslatable word that denotes an instantaneous deep connection between Koreans. When they meet, Hong notes that the therapist has an “enormous face.” After the appointment, the therapist informs Hong that she is not accepting her health insurance. But Hong staunchly refuses to be rejected by, of all people, a therapist. Begging her to reconsider, the jilted patient obsesses over reasons why the therapist might not want to see her. “Is it because I left too many voicemails? […] Are you seeing someone I know? […] Then it’s because I’m too fucked up for you, isn’t it?” “I have another patient waiting,” the therapist says. “Don’t fuck her up too,” Hong replies. Later, she writes a garbled rant on RateMyTherapist.com. “I started taking my resentment out not only on her, but on Koreans as a whole. ‘Koreans are repressed! Rigid! Cold! They should not be allowed to work in the mental health care profession!’”(.r.19)
2. Many Asian Americans find themselves caught in what the writer calls ‘ minor’ racial conflicts. Please give some examples.
Hong go for manicure, the service boy doesn’t care of her hurt. Even in a nail salon , we can feel hallucinting racial discrimination.
3. How does Hong tell an Asian American story that captures the full range of these minor feelings, their complexity, their pathos, their commonness, widow
simply lapsing into conventions of disappearance, ugly feelings, and weakness so deeply associated with being Asian American?
-Minor things can become moments of great revelation when encountered for the first time-Margot Fonteyn
-The cather in the rye or the wacher in the rye.
4.Each essay weaves between historical events suchas in the chapters are each organized around a general theme, such as “the end of white Innocence, The Indebted” Do you feel it’s touched or too over?
-In this blistering essay collection, poet Hong (Engine Empire) interrogates America’s racial categories to explore the “under-reported” Asian-American experience. Hong, a child of Korean immigrants, was born in Los Angeles’s Koreatown, but moved from the neighborhood before the 1992 riots upended the area. Her topics include personal experiences, from learning English as a second language and obsessing over her scented Hello Kitty–branded erasers as a child, to mining the repertoire of Richard Pryor as a young woman entering the stand-up scene. She is both angry and wryly funny when examining her struggles with depression, hemifacial spasm disorder, and poetry peers who dismissed her first book as “hack identity politics.” Assessing perceptions of Asian-Americans as “next in line to be white,” as one man tells her, she observes that in fact they have the “highest income disparity out of any racial group” in the country. Her confrontational prose maintains a poet’s lyricism in “The End of White Innocence,” which recalls a childhood “spent looking into the menagerie of white children.” Combining cultural criticism and personal exploration, Hong constructs a trenchant examination of race in America. (r.4)
5. The Essay, An Educaition, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha who’s best know for writing the 1982 experimental autobiography , Dictee. Cha’s family was actually the ones who found out the actual scene that she was raped and killed in the spot center of
New York. Why was her homicide never been revealed until later.
-OGrady said in 2016: "I think art’s first goal is to remind us that we are human, whatever that is. I suppose the politics in my art could be to remind us that we are all human."(r.16) Cha’s death shows the racial disparity that no one wants to face her death as sexual homicide.
6.This book is indeed a reckoning; a willing to make minor feelings visible and heard. Is it also the apology? Is it so hard to let bygones be bygones and move forward?
- Minor is the puns of second-class citizen and juvenile.
7. What will you say about the relationship between Cathy and her mom? How about the friendship between the 3 of them, Cathy, Helen and Erin?
- The pencil, like a fussy bureaucrat, reorients the reader in time and space.
We wander, looking and daydreaming, forgetting about the pencil until it reappears again.-Virginia Woolf.
8. From the writer’s intraracial antagonism and Asian American assimilation has almost relied on economic advancement, a concern with the notion that Asian
Americans are" next in line to be white” can this be found in the real world now? Or like what Hong’s” she replace the white with disappear” helps promote this notion of disappearance?
- With a sharp eyes to see the Asian-Americans, all the wounds make her be more strong to face the marks. and overturn the solipsism of white innocence even act more grateful for giving them a second chance to live.
April 24. Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong Led by Lydia Lai
(summery of Clive)
This was perhaps one of the most interesting and lively discussions in a long time, largely because of the book and the members who felt so strongly about it. I think it is important to say that this is the sort of book that is an amazing catalyst for discussion and conversation. Whether you loved or hated it, it provided us with a starting point for discussing race, culture and the experiences people have. Torey eloquently explained to us that when Cathy Park Hong talks about the “minor feelings” she’s talking about the pain of being a nonwhite person in the United States. This experience is one that Torey, perhaps more than many is most able to speak about. Other members talked about the dissonance between lived experience and the American promise of life, and Ming Li shared with us the freedom that was promised and the experiences she had in California in the 70’s. We discussed the idea that America is the promise of the perfect life but there are many more imperfections minorities have to face. Major feelings are joyous, but minor feelings accumulate and persist and sour our view of life.
It might be natural to assume that “minor” has a different connotation — that it describes states of being that are nagging but trivial, a side plot to a central drama. After all, the essays collected in “Minor Feelings” primarily discuss Asian Americans, but there was a universal part to this story. Members talked about what it is like to be on the outside looking in. What might it be like to be part of a racial group often seen as detached from the central national narrative. In the USA, this means...anyone not white. Different members presented ideas that the Korean experience is not the Asian American experience because Koreans have their own characteristics that are not universal to all Asians, especially Lydia, Ming Li and Florence. Lily discussed racism, and the experiences that many Asian Americans are experiencing today. One thing the author and the members can agree on, “Asians lack presence. Asians take up apologetic space. We don’t even have enough presence to be considered real minorities.”
My question to members would be if any of us can find meaning in our racial identity? Or can we only draw meaning by turning to our individual family histories and countries of origin? It is an imperfect book for an imperfect America at an imperfect time in world history, but as a catalyst for discussion, it was outstanding.
1.catcher in the rye: https://www.getit01.com/p20171218125493/
4.book review: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-984820-36-5
5.Cathy Park Hong: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathy_Park_Hong
7.Virgina Woolf’s pencil: https://blog.pshares.org/virginia-woolfs-pencil/
10.love connection: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Connection
11.white flights: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_flight
12.Max Earnst: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Ernst
13.Theresa Hak Kyung Cha: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theresa_Hak_Kyung_Cha
14.Slyvia Plath: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Plath
16. Lorraine o grady: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorraine_OGrady
17. Tom Ikeda: https://www.c-span.org/person/?tomikeda
We really appreciate Lydias wonderful lead, every time her devotion to the book club is admirable and inspires every member in a heated discussion, we also thank our consultant Clive, who always gives us different ideas.
Book: The Lone Pilgrim
Leader: Clive Hazell
Time: 1 p.m. May 3, 2021
Place: Qubit Cafe (Hanshin Arena) No.6, Lane 50, Bo-Ai 3 Road,
Zuo Ying District, Kaohsiung. Tel:07-3459477
Parking: in the basement of the Qubit Café
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